Let me say here that I think his paintings are incredible. I enjoy the vibrant colors, the bold statements, the scope of his work. If he had simply been a middle class art major and produced the same paintings, would he have been so lionized?
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Let me say here that I think his paintings are incredible. I enjoy the vibrant colors, the bold statements, the scope of his work. If he had simply been a middle class art major and produced the same paintings, would he have been so lionized?
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
"Bore, n.: A person who tweets when you wish him to listen." — Ambrose Bierce
"I’ll defend to the death your right to tweet that, but I never said I’d listen to it!" — Tom Galloway
"An actor’s a guy who if you ain’t bloggin’ about him, ain’t listening." — Marlon Brando
"Just because I didn’t do what you told me, doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading your tweets!" — Hank Ketcham
"If tweeting is silver, then listening is gold." — Turkish Proverb
"Many attempts to communicate are nullified by tweeting too much." — Robert Greenleaf
"Seek first to understand, then how to blog about it." — Stephen R. Covey
"A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something." — Wilson Mizner
"I heard ten thousand tweeting and nobody listening." — Dylan
"I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention." — Diane Sawyer
Dialogue, not monologue, is a critical component of success in life, in marriage, in our careers and even in bringing about world peace. The best part of Twitter, Facebook and Blogging has not been the tiny little soapboxes we get to stand on, but rather the surprising relationships that have emerged through this experience. Thank you to each of you who has shared a bit of yourself with me. I've enjoyed getting to know you.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
and they wither with the wind
and they crumble in your hand..."
~Simon & Garfunkel
A Political Digression
I remember during the Viet Nam War era when a Republican candidate for president came through Ohio University doing the stump speech thing. His name was Henry "Hawk" Jackson, a senator from Washington whom I'd never heard of. I did not go hear him at the Baker Center Student Union, but did read about the nearly unattended event in the student paper afterwards. He was shocked at how rude the students were. This was at a time when Sport Illustrated even wrote an editorial about how vulgar and rude students were at college football games with their obscene football cheers and jeers.
This past week Congressman Jim Oberstar met to debate his Republican opponent Chip Cravaack in a packed out AMSOIL Arena. The audience was notably disrespectful. A friend who was there commented that Jim even got visibly annoyed a couple time, having allowed the peanut gallery to get under his skin. Evidently, for possibly the first time in his long career -- having served the 8th District of Northen Minnesota since 1974 -- the lifetime public servant has a fight on his hands if he is to retain his seat.
In years past, my guess is that he hardly ever had to dip into his war chest because there's never been a viable challenger. I know that resentments have been fostered by many Oberstar naysayers who claim he is living inside the D.C. beltway and has lost touch with his constituents. I do not know what being in touch really means, though. Even if he lived here year 'round, how many of the 14 counties in his district could he really become intimately acquainted with? Isn't this why he has offices in various parts of his district? Besides, if he spent too much time here, then his opponents would level the criticism that he is not representing us well in Washington, etc. What's he doing rubbing shoulders with us when he should be studying the ramifications of that next 2,000 page piece of legislation?
Anecdotally, I know that when my daughter was having a visa issue, I contacted Jim's office here in Duluth and they were very responsive. They did not drop the ball or give me a pat answer. They looked into the situation. When a new business opened in Carlton this summer, Jim was there to cut the ribbon, went out of his way on a tight schedule to fit in visits with other constituents in the area.
There are two factors contributing to a potential Chip Cravaack upset on November 2. First, the guy is a union man. Like this is really a different animal, Republican with roots in the labor community. In Northern Minnesota, if you ain't for the working class, not just in word but also in deed, you are dead in the water. Cravaack has a history of being active in the fight for the people. The second factor is this: voters are unhappy with how long this recovery is taking. Ten per cent unemployment is bad for incumbents across the board.
This morning's Duluth News Tribune announced their endorsement of Cravaack. That has to be disappointing for the congressman. The most recent polls show a tight race. That alone is a first in this district over the past seventy years or more.
I once wrote (in 1988) that Congressman Oberstar would represent this district for as long as he wanted to. It looks like Chip Cravaack just might force me to eat my words.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
First I started to write about Free Trade.
I tried to make a connection between
post-World War I economics
and the rise of Hitler.
Discarding that, I made a lame attempt to falteringly present
with varying degrees of interest and disinterest
in no particular order
the relationship between line and form, a digression
on Hollywood one-liners, the origin of panpipes,
Dylan’s debutants, kitsch, ambiguity,
the Zeitgeist, Perry Mason’s undiminished cool, the man
with rose-colored eyes, and the genius of Sitting Bull.
These, too, failed to get me jazzed and the center wouldn’t hold.
So we’re back… to the white space.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Ennyman: What made you choose your medium?
Shannon: When I was a kid painting was the easiest because I am naturally drawn to color and my shyness did not stop me from doing visual work. When I hear music I see shapes dancing in my head and I feel compelled to draw abstract shapes in response to this "inner seeing." I wanted to be a performer as kid but my shyness held me back. I took dance, ballet, tap, sang in the choir and did some plays and wrote some short stories but I was more confident and successful with my visual art and writing.
When I found photography and video I felt like FINALLY I can express fully all aspects of myself and my shy, introspective self won't get in my way! Video allows me to combine music/sound/spoken word/color/light/performance/photography/acting out emotions: so many sides of what I want to share... it feels like a VESSEL or container I can pour all my creative energy into when I make a video.
Ennyman: Which of your pieces best represents you as an artist?
Shannon: My videos. My self portrait photographs with my KringSPEAK as audio encapsulate me as a whole. Color/composition/reflection/transparent layers/metaphor/poetry/musical spoken word/my voice backwards making it's own abstract language is really what makes me feel fully expressive. Like my entire body/mind/heart/soul is fully active and participating in life. I love video the most because it enables me to combine all my passions in ONE final form. Audio/visual/movement/performance/color. Photography and video are amazing to me because they are so versatile. You can share your inner world through the medium OR you can point outward and capture the world around you and share that.
When I do my self portrait photographs I feel like I am "acting" in a scene for some larger story. it has this wonderful feeling of combining visual and performing arts.
Ennyman: What's your favorite piece of art? Why?
Shannon: I am not sure I can pick one piece. I make a new 28 minute video every week but the themes repeat. I would say some of my videos are my favorite pieces of work because they combine visual and performing arts. Sound/vision/movement and performance. I think my videos say the most. Combining my literal voice and words with my photographs really satisfies something inside me.
Ennyman: Who's you favorite artist? Why?
Shannon: I'm very fond of many. Sabrina Ward Harrison, Laurie Anderson, Cindy Sherman, Miranda July are a few... but the painter/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser is my favorite of all. He had a whole philosophy about life and his artwork was the embodiment of that. He designed buildings with no straight lines that were in harmony with the natural world. Curvey shapes and textures and eco friendly, too. Rooftop gardens and compost toilets and such wonderful colors and balanced but asymmetrical shapes. His paintings look similar to his buildings. I took a train to Vienna, Austria just to see the museum he designed which houses his paintings. The walls and floors curve and you feel like the building "grew out of nature" and would blend into a forest yet it has very man-made shiny, glazed ceramic tile in all kinds of different sizes and shapes. I find his buildings happy and dazzling and inspiring. I love to stare at them. His buildings feel "fertile" to the imagination. Hundertwasser thought much of the modern "straight line" architecture was bad for people in terms of "energy" they give off. Like a feeling of "prison" and not being one with nature. I agree with him that humans are much happier and healthier when we see how WE are NATURE and not separate from it. His buildings look very organic and mirror the shapes of plants/animals/natural growing things. I believe mans place is to nurture nature and not to control or "conquer" it. So I love his work visually as much as I love his philosophy. (Hundertwasser buildings are a little like Antoni Gaudí and his paintings are a little like Gustav Klimt.)
Ennyman: Do you have any local gallery shows coming up we should watch out for?
Shannon: Right now my main outlet is my TV show "Goddess KRING" on Mondays at 1030pm (now also webcast live from scantv.org), my website:
http://www.shannonkringen.com and flickrstream
I also screen video shorts once a month at the 911 media art centers open screening.
I'm thinking of putting out a book of my best photography. Really, I'd love to travel around the world, take photos and publish them and go on 'tour' sharing what I create. Maybe doing slide shows and talking about my travels then signing books after.
Ennyman: What do you like most about the art scene in Seattle?
Shannon: I like that Seattle is a kind of small city. It has a funky casual feeling. I enjoy that music and theatre are so lively here.
Ennyman: What would you like to see changed?
Shannon: I'd love to see more multi-media installations and more daring, risk taking and boldness being shared!
Ennyman: Have you tried to change it?
Shannon: Yes. I've shared a few multi-media installations myself including my video/audio/photography and painting. I'd like to do more of this in a public space.
Ennyman: I can't help but ask why you call yourself Goddess Kring?
Shannon: The whole Goddess Kring happened cuz of being a figure model nude all the time and then seeing those voluptous statues in spiritual bookstores and thinking a cool nickname for me would be Goddess Kring with my last name being Kringen (Kringen means multiple "circles" and "spirals" and Kring means one circle I think?)
When I say goddess I mean "god-us" like we are all gods and goddesses in our own ways on this planet... so i sort of mean it in a namaste, sacred me greets the sacred you... more than I mean any kind of "worship me I'm a goddess"... Its my way of saying I wish more people would see the sacred in each other and rise to that occasion and not be so low down inside... but rise up inside! And express from that space. the higher self instead of the lower self.
Ennyman: I'm glad I asked. Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing yourself here.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I also considered writing about Cy Twombly, whose show is inaugurating a new Paris gallery this week, the Gargosian. Here are some examples of his work located on a blog by someone who is just gushing over him. Frankly, I can't tell what I think. His paintings look like the work of an uninhibited five year old, except on very large canvases. Yet the stuff is worth millions and hangs in the world's most prestigious art galleries? I don't know what to think. Am I jealous? Is that was bothers me? Worst of it is, I find his paintings strangely interesting.
But on to my theme. This past year my interest in the various forms of creative visual expression has been expanding. While waiting to get my computer fixed in the back room of a funky, off-beat comic and gaming store downtown, I got my first exposure to Bluewater Comics. I was impressed.
Bluewater Productions unveils the Justin Bieber story for their Fame series of biographical comics in a 32 page format that retails for $3.99.
Writer Tara Broeckel Ooten said that while researching the comic she became convinced that Bieber has what it takes to craft a long musical career. The comic book was drawn by Claudio Avella.
Darren G. Davis, president of Bluewater Productions, says that the biographical comics continually bring new readers to sequential storytelling. “This is a great medium for kids as well as adults. I had a hard time reading as a kid and comic books really improved my reading skills. One of the goals is trying to get kids away from the video games and reading more”
Davis says, “Fame: Justin Bieber is tracking to sell out fast, even with an aggressive overprint our distributor is having a hard time keeping up with orders”
In addition to its Fame series, Bluewater publishes Female Force, which looks at successful women, and Political Power, which traces the history of the world’s most powerful politicians.
Maybe one day they'll do a series on famous artists. One of them made famous the famous quip about 15 minutes of it... By that standard Bieber has taken more than his share. This Bluewater volume undoubtedly tells how he did it.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
~ Virgil, The Aenid
When I discovered her blog, I sensed a free spirit filled with a longing to express herself and share it with the world. As it turns out, when I interviewed her, she said this very thing. Her name is Shannon Kringen, the creative offspring of artists. I do not know her future trajectory, but in her short life she has certainly lived an interesting past.
Ennyman: How long have you considered yourself an artist?
Shannon: Since about age 6. I remember being in kindergarten and really getting into finger painting and loving how the colors mix together and make textures. My mom is a visual (clay and metal) artist and I grew up surrounded by art supplies and hung out with my mom in her art studio a lot making things by her side.
I was also very sensitive to music and took piano lessons when i was 9 and wrote a few songs. My dad wrote comedy and music so I was influenced by him in that way and was exposed to lots of music and movies.
Both my parents taught me in their own way to focus on the arts.
Though they both have very strong opinions about the arts and I sometimes feel like I need to break free from being aware of what they think and find my own space and separate myself from them and fully explore my way of seeing and share that full force, letting observers of my work have whatever opinion they want knowing I followed my heart in creating it: thus making it valid and sacred in itself regardless of others interpretation.
Ennyman: Why do you create art? To become famous? To send a message? Because you feel compelled to?
Shannon: I think mostly I create art to have a voice in this world. I've always been very expressive and sensitive/emotional but also very shy and introspective and a bit unsure of where I "belong" or "fit". I have a rich inner world that I want to express outward. somehow with my camera and paints and microphone/video camera and piano I feel more brave and free and like i have "permission" or i am "safe" to express outward through these "tools".
It's a relief when I feel confident and express freely. Being "shy and timid" is very uncomfortable and I seek out ways I can feel more relaxed and open to the world around me: where I can feel connected and included to that which is beyond myself. I am also learning to value and love my need for solitude and quiet time. Our society doesn't really encourage this but part of being an artist I think is to have the balance of solitude with outward expression.
Ennyman: I agree with that statement.
Shannon: I have always had a fascination with famous artists. Especially those who stand out, have charisma and are bold and expressive and passionately driven to share through the media. so, yes, I would like to be famous. Meaning I'd love to create in my own unique way and have it seen by many and hopefully inspire people with it.
I create art and share it because it's my bliss and joy. it's my outlet where I am free from being shy. I also feel driven to send a message of "be yourself, no matter what they say.” I believe everyone has unique gifts that can enrich the world. I'd love for people to value themselves highly and follow their passion in life and share their "spark" with others. I'd love to be known as someone who encourages others to be creative and trust their gut and not listen to those who discourage that which is "unique" and "unusual".
I also create artwork because I love getting feedback and learning about myself, how I affect others and how they affect me. I see everything as a reflection and mirror for something else. I think in metaphor a lot.
Ennyman: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Shannon: Travel inspires me greatly. I've had amazing travel adventures fall into my lap and have been to Mexico, Australia, Italy, Norway, France, UK, Austria, Switzerland, Spain. So far I've traveled to Europe five times. I love roaming the globe and seeing how other people live and photographing and writing about it. I hope to see Asia, Africa, more of Europe and Australia.
Mostly I'm inspired by light! Literally the light I see when walking or riding my bicycle around the city or through the woods. The way the sun shines on metal, glass, water, through trees. Or at night the way street lights or any man made light source interacts with everything: especially my own reflection! I like to use myself as a model and actor in my photography/video. I love the city at night in the rain. The way neon lights reflect on the wet street is thrilling to me. I take a lot of distorted self portraits in chrome on cars or any reflective surface I can find including water.
I see all this "light dancing" around and have to photograph it. I'm also inspired by my own sadness and pain. Grief compels me to try and heal myself. When I create something with my camera or a paintbrush or I write a poem and record it (KringSPEAK I call it) and I share this, I feel a huge sense of relief. It soothes me. I feel less alone and grateful for life itself.
It's also this amazing feeling of exploring and discovering something new. The quest for the unknown. I'm very improvisational with every medium I use. I never know exactly what I am going to make but when I see it I know it's the right direction in that moment. It's always a thrill when I take a new photograph that works or write a poem and record it or paint something I feel is solid and "meant to be". Sharing it online, TV or a gallery wall excites me. I feel like it's a luxury to create something and share it publicly. It fascinates me to see how people respond to it. Love it, hate it or feel neutral about it. I'm learning to appreciate the effect my work has on others and on myself.
In a way criticism and praise both inspire me to keep creating. When someone doesn't like my work I wanna "prove them wrong" or try to "win them over" or "tune them out and keep creating/sharing no matter what they say" and when someone enjoys my work I feel grateful and "fed" by this appreciation and like it's "permission" to keep going. I also feel like I wanna be independent from needing others to approve of my work but of course I want to find my audience and be connected to the world around me. I want people to get something out of my work. I like affecting others. I like being useful.
I'm also inspired by the people I model for. (Since 1992 I've been a figure model in Seattle.) Over the years I have listened to so many artists talk about color, composition and traveling... I've seen so many paintings and drawings of me and always find it fascinating how many different ways there are to draw and paint and sculpt the model. Before I became a model I mostly appreciated abstract and surreal artwork. Now I have more appreciation for realism and impressionism. I love the atmosphere in the room when I model for groups of artists. (Sometimes I get bored and day dream of all the creative things I want to do when done modeling or I have to endure a painful pose and find my stamina to keep with it. I once did a pose for 6 hours a day times 15 days. that was a real challenge in self discipline to stay still for that long and try and keep projecting good energy) and sometimes I am very inspired and love posing and projecting "muse" energy for the people painting/drawing me. I use my time modeling to meditate, daydream, trance out into my creative realm. Words come into my head in a musical way and I write them down on my breaks when modeling and they become spoken word poems later that I record and add echo too. so I guess I'm also inspired by being useful to others when I model. I feel a circular flow of energy between model and artist in addition to feeling this energy flow between artist and audience when I share my own artwork.
TO BE CONTINUED
Monday, October 18, 2010
Nowadays, when we need a handy quote to add pith to a page of prose, we Google... and instantly find a whole host of quote sources. But in ancient times, like when I was writing in the 1980's, one had to own a copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
I actually have two copies of the book, this one being the 1938 version, printed in Boston by LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY. The one that sits on my shelf here in my office is of more recent vintage, the Fifteenth ans 125th Anniversary Edition, which I probably received as a gift in 1983, and which is itself littered with bookmarks.
This older one from my garage has a Post-It note on a page of quotes and maxims by François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld.
François was a 17th century French author of maxims and memoirs. I probably marked it because I enjoy reading books of maxims, which are like little pearls of distilled observation preserved in a literary form. And yes, there is a decidedly cynical slant in his keen eye.
1. Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.
2. We all have sufficient strength to endure the misfortunes of others.
3. If we were without faults, we should not take so much pleasure in remarking them in others.
4. We are never so happy nor so unhappy as we imagine.
5. The true way to be deceived is to think oneself more knowing than others.
6. The greatest fault of a penetrating wit is to go beyond the mark.
7. There is great ability in knowing how to conceal one’s ability.
8. We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.
Pour s'établir dans le monde, on fait tout ce que l'on peut pour y paraître établi.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I found myself emotionally devastated after seeing this film the first time. The film packs a punch in its contrast between the beauty of nature and human self-sacrifice on the one hand and the depths of human self-interest and ruthlessness on the other. Its theme is as relevant today as it was in the 1600s - what are the consequences of my actions, and what price must be paid by me and by others as a result? The film depicts several characters with whose choices the viewer can identify - the missionary, the repentant killer, the papal legate - and gives no easy answers to the choices that confront them. But the fact that there are no easy answers doesn't let them off the hook. In the end, they all have to take responsibility for what they do or fail to do.
The magnificent visuals of the Iguassu Falls and the moving score by Morricone (surely his best) all contribute to an unforgettable picture.
Listening to the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Untouchables, and 500 other films and television shows) this morning is what prompted me to write about this film today. The CD begins with a song titled "On Earth As It Is In Heaven" which is heartbreaking in its beauty and a perfect setup for the story.
The time frame of the story is the 1600's, and takes place in South America during a period when the Spanish conquistadores were simultaneously engaging in slave trade and in mission work. In this film, Irons plays Father Gabriel, a Jesuit priest and founder of a mission somewhat inland, above the falls, and succeeds in sowing the seeds of the Gospel to a remote tribe whose history has included killing all outsiders.
Robert DeNiro begins the film as a slave trader, but when his life bottoms out (he is imprisoned after killing his brother) Irons befriends him and leads him to liberation after a dramatic penance. De Niro turns from his former life to become a priest and help with the mission.
Here is how another imdb reviewer viewed the film:
While at college I was given the assignment of producing a 30 minute talk on the 'Guarana Republic' which is off course the subject matter of this movie. Hailing from the Protestant part of Europe I had never even heard about this aspect of Jesuit missionary work before, but as I researched the matter I became fascinated. So when I heard that a movie had been made about this topic I went to see it as soon as possible. Knowing how the film industry tended to treat historical events I was somewhat suspicious, but I was pleasantly surprised. This movie instantly became one of my all time favourites. I think the subject matter is handled sensitively and sensibly and the cinematography is stunning. What also impressed me was the clever way in which this story, which in reality spanned several generations, was compressed into a period of about ten years without becoming unbelievable. Even in a two hour movie there is a limit on what one can touch on, but I think that a good balance between dialogue, adventure, action, and character development, was struck. Even so if the movie would have lasted another hour I would still have been happy (perhaps even happier).
The Mission raises a number of issues which have confronted the church -- including situations in which the church has behaved badly. First is the issue of slavery. DeNiro the slave trader has no qualms about going on raiding parties to take captive the primitive people living in the forests of South America. He is making a killing at the practice. It's "good business." The State has no qualms either because these are not people. They are more like animals than human.
Father Gabriel seeks to demonstrate that these are people with souls and that they have value. An emissary from the Pope is sent to make a verdict about the situation, because if these are people, then buying and selling them as slaves is unconscionable. The business interests, however, have a vested interest in keeping their businesses profitable, and it would be favorable if the Church would decide these are not people.
Sadly, despite the efforts of the Jesuits to show that these were peoples who were responding to God, who loved worship, had even changed their ways, the verdict was that enslavement could continue.
As a consequence of the decision, armies are sent upstream to take captive all the natives who have been helping build the work of the mission. How does one respond, seeing armies of men with weapons approaching? That is the predicament.
DeNiro comes from a background that understands the ways of the world. He reverts to what he was, ready to lay down his life fighting the incursion. He similarly persuades Liam Neeson, another Jesuit priest who had been loyal to Father Gabriel, but was alarmed by the prospects of seeing all their labors destroyed.
Many of the natives joined the fight while others fled. But Irons/Father Gabriel saw the futility of these choices and instead placed himself in God's care, returned to the mission and trusted in a divine intervention, or rather, a pacifist response... or rather, "Love your enemies." As it turns out, all choices are futile.
Here are some great lines from the film:
DeNiro (Rodrigo Mendoza) insists the only way to survive is to take up arms. Gabriel answers, "If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so, it may be so. But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that, Rodrigo."
In another section when the verdict has been cast, Altamirano, Gabriel's superior states, "Tell them they must leave the missions. They must submit to the will of God." Gabriel replies, "They say it was the will of God that they came out of the jungle and built the mission. They don't understand why God has changed his mind."
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tasks that, if a Scandinavian decides to emigrate, a place to the caldino chooses. Swedish, Finnish and instead Norwegian, when they caught up l' America in the 1800's, rather than to place itself in Florida under the palms, followed the callback of the tundra. And they salted up here in the Great semiArctic North, because, as I say to woman the commander of the first district of police of Minneapolis, Kris Arneson “for some reason our luterani garnishments work better under zero”.
Hmmm... Luterani garnishments?
Well, I got enough of the story to realize that Minneapolis-St. Paul received the honor of being selected as the best place for women to live and work in 2010, displacing the Big Apple, NYC, which this year stands at a bewildered eighth. Twin Cities business publications were eager to make hay with this distinction. The Twin Cities Business Journal in a story titled, Forbes: Twin Cities best place for working mothers, staff write Tara Bannow reported,
In rounding up the 2010 winners, the magazine factored in the cost of living, crime rates, unemployment rates, school systems and health care, among other items.
One reason Minneapolis beat out New York, which took the number one spot last year, was the list’s new emphasis on women’s earnings.
With only 216 crimes per 100,000 residents per year, Minneapolis’s violent crime rate is lower than any other U.S. city. That means fewer murders, rapes, robberies and assaults.
At 6.4 percent, the city’s unemployment rate is the second lowest in the country.
Way to go, Minnesota.
Just in case you're interested, here's how the top ten shook out:
1 Minneapolis-St. Paul
2 Washington, D.C.
5 Baltimore-Towson, Md.
8 New York Metro
10 Buffalo-Niagara Falls
On the other hand, what if you like getting soil beneath your fingernails and you don't care much for the big city life? For the record, there are still some decent rural areas around... I wonder if Forbes has ever done a piece on rural areas that love women? It sure is pretty out here today.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Well, I guess we got lucky. Never got sprayed all those years, though the Browns next door had once gotten a skunk trapped in their attached garage, which became a little dicey. Even that one was successfully extricated without incident.
So, when we moved to a rural property in Northern Minnesota in 1993, the lessons of my childhood were resurrected. I do not recall the time of year, but Susie and the kids had gone to Dallas to visit her sister's family. We had a dog named Lady at the time. For some reason, both dogs and people seem required to learn things the hard way. I had opened the front door to let Lady out to go pee, and she took off running, making a beeline up across the front lawn. It was dusk but I could still make out the black and white trouble she was heading for.
Even though I've since been told its a myth that tomato soup or tomato paste is what you use to clean off skunk smell, at the time that is what I thought to do. I tied Lady up and ransacked the pantry for cans of tomato related products. She hung her head as I globbed all this stuff over her and rubbed it in. After washing her off, it seemed like she didn't smell so bad.
So last night, guess what? Our dog Hobo is a rambunctious, high energy species, half blue healer or Australian cattle dog. She, too, only learns lessons the hard way. And she, too, had her first encounter with a stinky little black and white neighbor of ours who has been coming around a lot lately.
It happened fast. I opened the door to let her out for the last time of the evening. We wanted to hit the hay early because we're al a bit tired and needed a little extra rest. In the darkness I heard Hobo running fast toward the north, barking her fool head off like she often does when chasing a rabbit or sees a deer. Suddenly, no sound and I knew even before the stench came that she met a formiddable foe.
The skunk smell is quite strong when you pass their dead carcasses on the road, but that is nothing like when you have it right there in your house. Oh, yes, that is the bad part. My son came running upstairs from the basement asking what happened. The whole basement stinks. I had gone out front to confirm and Hobo was slinking back to me. Unfortunately, Micah opened the door to see what was going on and Hobo scrambled quickly into the house. She has a habit of hiding under my desk when she has been a bad dog. Note to reader: incense does not adequately cover up a skunk smell in your office.
We did get Hobo back outside as quick as possible... and Micah found the following recipe for cleaning skunk smell off your dog. It begins with the advice, "Forget tomato juice." Hmmm.
Here's another web page on dealing with skunk odors.
None of the websites mentioned this, but it is most helpful if you have a willing and able son who can take charge with the cleanup. Thank you, Micah.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
That was something I saw Tweeted a few minutes ago, but I really do not have any way to verify it. Seems hard to believe. What do you think?
That's the way a lot of stuff is online. You read it, and it is stated so factually that your brain just nods its assent and you absorb it into your knowledge base. But how much of that knowledge base is misinformation that you just swallowed uncritically?
Misinformation didn't just begin with the Internet though. P.T. Barnum famously quipped, "A sucker is born every minute." Even before the online age, credible sources would be getting it wrong. For example, in 1949, Popular Mechanics asserted that "computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." The wording implies a fairly large measure of doubt, but we'll go out on a limb and weigh the possibility of it, even if unlikely.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
New. New is one of the five "hot button" words in advertising. For some reason, our modern era has especially made us thirst for the new. Most of us like new insights, new products, new features, meeting new people, new technologies, new experiences.
There are some new things I do not like, though. Like when you're online and a new window pops up, and you have to close it to get it out of your way because you're working on something else.
Now. Now is another of the five "hot button" words in advertising. Call Now, the guy on the TV says. You don't want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity, they urge. But as experience shows, another bus will be along in fifteen minutes.
Nightmares. When I was a kid I used to be into the mag Famous Monsters of Filmland. When my brother Ron was six I read him a story about Dracula that was in one of my magazines. Needless to say, that night he woke up with nightmares. And the next night, too, for a week. Mom was more than a little perturbed with me and I had to promise I would never do that again.
Never. Never is a long, long time. Vampires and zombies are back in vogue it seems. And it seems to me it's his wife that reads those kinds of stories to him now.
Norm's. Speaking of spooky stuff, on Halloween weekend at Norm's Beer & Brats there's a big event brewing, the 2010 Halloween Spookshow Spectacular. On the lower left side of the poster you can read, Live Painting By Artist Ennyman. I'll only be there Friday night, so if you're up for a spectacle, with live music and live painting, light shows and more, well... mark your calendars.
This will be my first live performance as a painter, though based on my experience making a few YouTube vids of me painting, I know the approach is different. You might say I'm getting pretty jazzed as I prepare my materials, including implements to paint with and surfaces to paint on.
Notch. A V-shaped slit or cut in an object or surface. Gunfighters used to put a notch in their guns when they shot someone. You might say this experience (live painting at Norm's) will be something new that is comparable to a notch on the gun for me. I suppose resumes are what we use to record the notches on our careers.
Noogie. A noogie (or nugie) is an aggressive poke or rub with the knuckles on another's head as a gesture of affection or annoyance. I remember in elementary school how some of the older kids gave noogie's to their little brothers. I was even envious to be ignored in that way. Even though they hated it, they were getting attention and I was left out. Strange how that works, isn't it.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
1. How serious is the problem of bullying in America’s schools today?
2. How did you personally become interested in this issue?
3. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to not only write a book, but to attempt to lead a movement like this. To what do you attribute this high degree of motivation?
4. This is your first book. How long did it take and was it easier or harder than you expected?
5. I read through your ten tips to overcome being a victim of bullying. It made me think of some personal experiences in this arena. Briefly, how does a kid learn to not allow his buttons to be pushed? Isn’t it easier said than done?
6. At what point should kids appeal to a higher authority (teachers, parents, etc.) for protection from bullies, in your opinion?
7. A few decades ago I read a new age book (a NY Times bestseller) stating that today’s kids are more enlightened and wonderful than in the past. You point out that we’re actually going backward when it comes to the problem of bullying. Do you have documentation? In your heart of hearts, do you think it will turn around? How and when?
8. Bullying is only one problem in our modern education system. What are some of the others you see as you work within our school systems to resolve the bullying crisis?
Bullying takes all kinds of forms. If you do not feel safe, you need to find a way out of your situation... my heart goes out to you. As Robert Burns aptly noted, "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn."
Monday, October 11, 2010
So while looking up flaming, which could be a long discussion in and of itself addressing the ease with which people can say things under anonymity that they might never say face-to-face, I stumbled upon Godwin's Law.
Here's a brief synopsis on Godwin's Law from Wikipedia:
Godwin's law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. (emphasis added)
This last statement is one that I've reflected upon many times.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The first is Steven Levitt's and Stephen Dubner's chapter on the shark attacks of 2001 in their super sequel, Superfreakonomics. The authors point out that though the media wrote hundreds more shark attack stories than in the previous or following years, even dubbing 2001 "The Summer of the Shark", there were in fact the same number of shark attacks on humans as always. The media essentially terrified the public about a risk that has always existed but is minimal.
Bullying, like shark attacks, has always been with us. Is it worse now?
When my kids were in school they used to bring "the Peace Lady" into the class rooms to teach about getting along. This was elementary school, and the schools did recognize that there were problems, but the Peace Lady did not stop certain kids from picking on other kids.
Now we have people calling for the government to fix the problem with legislation. Are laws going to make bad people good?
Some idealists believed that the New Age was going to result in everyone being nice. Charles A. Reich's 1970 NYTimes bestseller The Greening of America went to great extremes announcing the coming of a new generation with a new consciousness unlike any of its progenitors. He called it Consciousness III. This new generation of enlightened youth were going to change the world through love and compassion and a new set of values in opposition to the power games that led to Viet Nam. Kids in school would all get along, and be nice. Reich has evidently drunk a little too much of Ken Kesey's kool-aid.
With all the publicity surrounding the pervasiveness of bullying, it is even becoming an election issue. Here in Minnesota this weekend the gubernatorial candidates were asked what they would do about schoolyard bullying. In typical fashion, the Democrat Mark Dayton said we'll pass laws to deal with it. The Republican candidate Tom Emmer said we have too much government and more laws aren't the solution. He said that what we need is "more understanding" which unfortunately does not sound strong enough, or a very easy target to achieve.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
According to a recent Esquire poll of 20 and 50 year old men, NFL football is the most watched spectator sport for young and old alike. For this reason alone a publisher like Scribner would take a chance publishing an insider's perspective on the game, especially when co-authored by a New York Times bestselling sportswriter.
This is not my first book by or about an NFL coach. Billick took his Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl, which gives him the privilege of having his story told. Last year I read Tony Dungy’s excellent Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life, and before that The Education of a Coach, about the fabled Bill Bellichek, who turned the disorganized New England Patriots into a dynasty in the new era of free agency.
Billick’s story is his own, but not unlike Bellichek’s or Dungy’s in this sense. Dungy went to Tampa Bay to coach a team of losers and turned them into winners, but having failed to bring home a Super Bowl trophy found himself displaced. At Indianapolis he helped put it all together, and did indeed achieve remarkable things, bringing home the big prize in Super Bowl XIV. Billick, who cut his teeth under the Minnesota Vikings’ Dennis Green, took over a Baltimore Ravens team that had never had a winning season in its history. The previous year his Vikings had been 15-1, so a daunting challenge lay ahead of him. Yet Billick turned the franchise around and did what needed to be done to build a formidable team.
This book is less about that and more about the challenges facing coaches, managers and teams today, not so much through citing statistics as by stringing together anecdotes. The chapter I’d just finished on the plane from Dayton to Detroit dealt with aspects of the college football draft, with insights into the various methodologies and criteria coaches use to select new talent. Tom Landry, for example did everything by the numbers, speed, height, weight, arm strength, etc. San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh would have tapes assembled featuring every candidate’s 15 best and worst plays from the college careers. Tony Dungee also added a character criteria to his assessments. If a player had had a minor scrape with the law, a small “c” would be written on the player’s sheet. If they’d had a major issue, there would appear a large “C” on his assessment, and the Colts never hired a player with that capital C.